Monday, December 10, 2007

Personal Asides: Tackett’s “Tribune” Emanuel Sucker Story…Now Let’s Look at the Role “Hope “ Played in Prior Winning Campaigns.


The Idealistic Rahm Emanuel as Portrayed by Tackett.

The “Tribune” has been going through a drought on Washington bureau chiefs. One was James Warren who complained often and bitterly that Cokie Roberts and her husband Steve were were getting limelight by appearing as talking heads on TV and, worse, taking honoraria for talks to certain civic groups. Quite unremarkable. And neither were employed by the “Tribune.” Columnists in Washington and elsewhere do this legitimately and honorably all the time and no one could imagine why it was of importance to him. The answer was nobody had asked him for either talking head opinion or to make a speech.

Then Warren got some offers and there was no more to be said about that: it was merely an advertisement for himself. Inevitably and not because he was so good at what he did, he was promoted out of Washington by his paper and now pursues the same kind of modishly liberal cliché’ driven journalism, involving little thought, back home. Any day now he will be writing something that says foreign policy problems are intractable and unable to be squeezed into an election cycle. Brilliant. Pulitzer stuff.

Now the Washington bureau chief is one Michael Tackett about whom to say he is a predictable liberal is to translate probability to certainty. A paper which once had Arthur Sears Henning, Walter Trohan (possibly the greatest Washington bureau chief ever, who broke the story of Truman’s firing MacArthur), Willard Edwards and Chesly Manly now has a predictably liberal boilerplate maker who passes vague bleatings of wispy dreams as analysis…with due credit to one of the hardest gut Democratic non-idealists around.

Tackett’s column Sunday a case in point. Did you know that this presidential campaign consists of two words: hope and fear? Now you do.

Now look see. Rudy Giuliani’s bargain with the voters is “he will keep you safe.” Mitt Romney would not only keep Guantanamo open but would “expand it.” By which you are to understand that Romney truckles to fear. John McCain “continues to push on an otherwise unpopular war on the fear that terrorists will take over the world if U. S. troops pull out of Iraq.” (Just like FDR and Churchill did warning of the Nazis; JFK urging greater defense expenditures in `60; Hubert in staying the course in Vietnam in `68). But back to Tackett.

If you wonder how in the world a low-voltage candidate like Fred Thompson capitalizes on fear, he does it this way—“as he leverages his `Law & Order’ persona.” Please.

To continue: Ron Paul “pushes fear of government in most any form.” I’ll concede that. But Duncan Hunter? “Rep. Duncan Hunter is a fear-firster, too—on the war, on immigrants, pretty much on any threat and in his world threats are everywhere.” Hunter’s sole background has been House Armed Services where he was chairman so by any measure using this experience would incite fear, according to Tackett.

Moving on: Hillary Clinton. I’ve not been a Hillary fan but what is this? “She portrays herself as the only candidate seasoned enough in combat to overcome the fear mongering of her Republican opponents.” Strictly invention of yours to keep your fear theme lasting through the end of the column, Michael. The lady touts herself as having had experience in two branches, period and this includes domestic as well as foreign issues.

John Edwards “used to offer sunshine and hope when he first ran for president in 2004. Now he talks up fear in the form of poverty…” No, to be fair once again, his palaver is the inequity of two societies; you’re straining again to make your column’s pretext hold, Michael. “Rep. Dennis Kucinich seems to think we might also need to fear UFOs.” I’ll grant you that, but that’s unfair since Kucinich needs help in more ways than campaign money.

Now those who project hope.

Mike Huckabee.

He’s included to give Tackett’s piece the flavor of objectivity. For one thing, he’s from Hope, Ark. But…and if he doesn’t flub, I’m for him for vice president… he stresses fear more than most: the necessity to keep segments of the middle class that are falling behind from further exploitation as he sees it from non-reciprocal trade: that’s fear. Everything about Huckabee is fear of one thing or another. That includes his best-seller “How to Stop Digging Your Own Grave with Your Knife and Fork”—fear of premature death by overeating. There’s capitalization on public fear of the IRS which he wants to eliminate. His stand on a more open immigration is based on fear that we will fail in our expectations of harbor to the underprivileged. His message to business evokes fear…the drying up of the migrant labor pool, the fear that the GOP will alienate Hispanics in future elections.

But all this is prelude to the point liberal zany Tackett wants to conclude by. The real man of hope is—ta-tah—

Barack Obama!

And then he turns rhapsodic with his prose sounding like it came from Obama’s latest brochure (maybe it has): “He says that as president he would talk to America’s enemies directly”—something eyes-in-the-skies foreign policy dabbler Tackett likes. “He talks about building bridges. Of issuing a new call for national service. Of a call for a new generation of leadership that avoids the culture wars of the `60s and the political fights of the `90s. He projects hope in his speeches and, as much, in his manner.”

Now the peroration. Tackett has someone to quote to verify his think piece.

“If you look at the ascendancy of Barack and Huckabee in both parties, the change candidates which is the same as hope, are doing well.” Who says this to Tackett? Rahm Emanuel! “Glory-osky Zero!” as the cartoon waif Little Annie Rooney used to say to her dog, “you know what?”

Rahm Emanuel is a man of hope too, not fear!

All this time it’s been hope—not fear--that Emanuel has communicated to Democratic candidates for the House as to what will happen to them if they don’t follow his f-word orders to the [f-explicative] letter. I will allow when he finishes with them they are filled with the fervent hope he doesn’t call again with his scatological threats.

. The ones I talk to say that he told them they’d better do this and that or he’d get their …aw you get the idea. Like the former challenger to Henry Hyde who was pulled…jerked…out of action by the ex-ballet dancer purveyor of hope acting as out-of-the-district Svengali and deprived of the chance to compete against Peter Roskam because Rahm had a better candidate. Who lost.

Back to the stars-in-his-eyes Tackett. A windup quote from that patron saint of hope, Rahm Emanuel.

“It just may be that after eight years of fear being dished out, voters will want the antidote to fear. After eight years, it doesn’t sell like it used to.”

Summary by Tackett: “The dreamers will bet on hope. The cynics will double down on fear.”

The End. Ka-ching! The sound of the cash register. Another sucker story sold to the “Trib.”

Well, after reading his reincarnation from cadaverous, hollow-eyed political thug to Tackett’s Beacon of Hope, Emanuel probably got on the phone with his staff.

“G—D------! Do I have to do everything by myself? Why the [explective] don’t we get more stories out like this? We’d better or you’re all [explective] goin’ to be lookin’ for a new berth, I’ll tell you that!”

Which Ranks Higher with Voters—Hope or Fear?

Just for the heck of it I did a survey of past presidential campaigns to see what role “hope” played in their winnings. Answer: very little. Basically one presidential race: that of Ulysses S. Grant. And one post-election deal to collect some Southern electoral votes based on hope the bargain would be kept: that of Rutherford B. Hayes.

For the overwhelming majority, voter fear carried the day. If things were running all right, fear that they could get worse with the opponent. If things weren’t, fear that to stick with the incumbent would make things worse. Here goes.

George Washington ran no campaign but was chosen first president because of the fear of the founders that what had been accomplished by creation of a new Constitution would die a-borning without his indispensable leadership…John Adams won by condemning the French Revolution as a mobocracy, fearing that with Jefferson its excesses would come here…Thomas Jefferson beat Adams by exciting fear that the Alien and Sedition laws were a forerunner of despotism…James Madison beat Charles Pinckney by spreading fear that Pinckney, the Federalist, would establish an aristocracy associated with Alexander Hamilton, inimical to Jefferson’s small government ideas…James Monroe was so far ahead of his opponent, Federalist Rufus King that he had no need to incite fear of anything.

John Quincy Adams won in the House after a campaign spreading the story that Andrew Jackson despite being a hero was an ignorant rube who, Adams feared, would demean the presidency (he didn’t when he won later); also fear that a paralytic stroke suffered by another opponent, William H. Crawford would put a dying man in the presidency and fear that his third opponent, Henry Clay, architect of the American System (huge investment in internal improvements) would spend the country to penury.

In the next go-round, Jackson defeated Adams in a pay-back for the “hideous bargain” at the last election in which Adams rewarded Clay for ceding his forces to Adams by giving him a cabinet post. To continue this trend, Jackson warned, would sink the country in corruption.

New Yorker Martin Van Buren won over his varied opponents by winning the South based on his spreading fear that unless he won, slavery was a goner and the South’s economy would go pffft. . William Henry Harrison defeated Van Buren by propagating the fear that the Panic of 1837 would be just a forerunner with the land becoming desolate in poverty.

James K. Polk won election by his forces stirring fear that Henry Clay would mis-rule, calling him a gambler and drunk. You could add womanizer to that but Polk didn’t have to. Zachary Taylor won by spreading fear in the Southern states that Lewis Cass, his opponent, would end slavery (Taylor owned 100 slaves). Franklin Pierce became the 14th president partially by spreading fear that the country would be taken over by Rome if his opponent, Gen. Winfield Scott, were to win since Scott’s daughter had become…gasp!... a nun!

Pennsylvanian James Buchanan won over John Charles Fremont by purveying the fear that civil war would engulf the country if Fremont won because Fremont was anti-slavery whereas Buchanan was diplomat, compromiser by instinct and could forestall civil war. Abraham Lincoln won election by shutting up and allowing his somewhat ambiguous earlier remarks on slavery to stand but his agents spread fear that the nation would forever be part slave if opponent Stephen A. Douglas was elected; slavery would grow with election of John Breckinridge and it would be made permanent under John Bell. Lincoln was reelected narrowly over Gen. George B. McClellan by generated fear over the chaos that could come from changing horses in the midst of Civil War.

Gen. Ulysses Grant was elected because of his enormous popularity as a war hero; no fear need be generated but here there was hope that Grant would be an excellent president. He wasn’t. . He was reelected despite scandals by having his campaigners say that his opponent, Horace Greeley, was a danger because his woolly-headed reforms would end patronage and hurt business. Rutherford B. Hayes won a disputed contest over electoral votes by agreeing to pull federal troops out of the south immediately. No fear but hope a secret deal would work. It did.

James A. Garfield defeated Winfield S. Hancock by his followers warning the economy would tank if the protective tariff were not continued which stirred business’ fears and support for Garfield. Grover Cleveland won by capitalizing on James G. Blaine’s purported anti-Catholicism which frightened the Irish of New York to vote Democratic. Benjamin Harrison defeated Cleveland in a campaign where not fear but terminal issue dullness dominated. Cleveland came back and defeated Harrison when fear was not dominant. William McKinley won over William Jennings Bryan by capitalizing on fears generated by the Panic of 1893 under Cleveland and scaring Wall Street over Bryan’s free silver program. Theodore Roosevelt topped Alton B. Parker in a spiritless campaign. William H. Taft beat Bryan by scaring Wall Street over Bryan’s “socialistic” call to nationalize the railroads

Woodrow Wilson beat both Taft and Theodore Roosevelt (running on a third party ticket) due to split in the Republican ranks. Wilson won reelection over Charles Evans Hughes by capitalizing on the fact that “he kept us out of war” and nurtured fears that under anyone else we would enter the World War. Warren Harding defeated James M. Cox by making it a referendum on the League of Nations, warning voters that if Cox won we would join and lose our national sovereignty. Calvin Coolidge won over John W. Davis through placidity and no controversy. Herbert Hoover defeated Alfred E. Smith by use of fear that the Catholic Smith would turn the nation over to the rule of the pope. Franklin Roosevelt won over Hoover because of the Depression; he won reelection after generating the fear that Alf Landon would terminate the “recovery”; won reelection to a third term by spreading fear that under a less savvy president we might be drawn into World War II; and won reelection to a fourth by spreading concern that the middle of a World War was not the time to change horses.

Harry Truman won election by spurring the fear that the real aim of the GOP was to dismantle the New Deal. Dwight Eisenhower was elected without promoting fear, merely that as a general he could provide peace in a Cold War. Both 1960 candidates JFK and Richard Nixon trumpeted fear of a rampant Communism in the Cold War but Kennedy made the better case. Lyndon Johnson was elected over Barry Goldwater by capitalizing on fear that Goldwater’s rashness would trigger a nuclear war with the USSR. Richard Nixon won over Hubert Humphrey by capitalizing on fears of crime in the streets, civil rights demonstrations and a Vietnam war that seemed not to go anywhere. He defeated George McGovern through spreading fear of a defenseless public stemming from the Democratic platform’s pledge for immediate end to the war, end to capital punishment, a pledge for busing to promote racial balance and ban on handguns. Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford without generating fear. Ronald Reagan topped Carter by capitalizing on public fears of domestic uncertainty through runaway inflation, gasoline shortage and the hostage crisis in Iran,

He was reelected after the Walter Mondale campaign got off to a bad start when the candidate promised to raise taxes and fear generated by a lengthy investigation of his running mate’s (Geraldine Ferraro’s) failure to disclose her husband’s complex finances with some innuendo that the Mafia was involved.

George H. W. Bush won by capitalizing on societal fears over his opponent’s pardoning of a criminal and failure to say he would support the death penalty for one who would rape and murder his own wife. Bill Clinton defeated Bush not with fear but with the aid of Ross Perot who as an independent candidate led both candidates for a time. George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore but won through decision of the U. S. Supreme Court (no fear generated by either campaign). No fear or hope involved. Bush won reelection over John Kerry by stressing fear i.e. capitalizing on waffling of Kerry that might endanger security.


  1. I have to think that one of Hillary's selling points is that she doesn't have to fear the Republican attack machine. After all, she has one of her own!

  2. Newspapers have but one audience - all the rest of us are looking for news items - and that is the Knit Cap, Soul-Patched, Birkenstock Wearing, Latte drinkers and their main squeezes who fail to vote.

    To that end Newspapers ( briefly the Tribune seemed to let sleeping dopes slumber - alas!) hone in on the Pencil Necked Geek Factor. Read Eric Zorn and get the pulse of an industry that is cork-screwing into the loam.

  3. While fear drives many things, I think that it is the more optimistic candidate that wins. In recent memory, only Nixon's defeat of Humphrey was triumph of pessimism over optimism. Carter was more optimistic than Ford. Reagan far more optimistic than Carter or Mondale. Bush 41 was more optimistic than Dukakis, and Clinton more so than Bush 41 . Bush 43 was more optimistic than Gore or Kerry.

    I don't know if this extends to nomination campaigns as I haven't looked in-depth at them, but looking towards the general election, Obama is far and away the most optimistic candidate of the Dems. The Hildog and Edwards are dooming and glooming their wya through the race. On the Republican side, there are plenty of optimistic candidates. Romney, Guilani,Thompson, and Huckabee are all can-do optimists. McBain is a dour realist by comparison. Of the no-hopers, only Hunter seems positive, while Tancredo and Paul are not optimistic about anything.

    In the general election, the race usually goes to the candidate who isn't pushing the idea that the country is going to hell in a handbasket, and only hard-nosed, incremental results realism can possibly turn the tide.

    They usually get beaten by the candidate who remembers that you can't spell American without "I Can"!

    None of the candidates who won minimized the problems and issues facing the nation, but they all (except Nixon) ran on the idea that the challenges of the present and future are not insurmoutable and that they can and will be solved by American smarts and guts.

  4. Obama's as gloomy as the next guy, depending on if you stand in his way or not. He has proposed nationalizing the auto-industry, government wage controls to ensure gender equity, and with John Edwards fought to keep Wal-Mart from providing jobs and value pricing in Urban America.

    The best anyone (The Economist, in this case) has to say about him is that he can't possibly mean the things he campaigns for. Should anyone be optimistic about a leader like that?